WTA Cincinnati: Elina Svitolina overcomes sloppy performance to move past countrywoman

Unforced errors and first serve struggles could not stop the fifth seed from coming through against Lesia Tsurenko.

WTA Cincinnati: Elina Svitolina overcomes sloppy performance to move past countrywoman
Svitolina ready to return a serve (Noel Alberto/VAVEL USA)
Elina Svitolina
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Lesia Tsurenko

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina started off her Western and Southern Open campaign against fellow Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko. The Rogers Cup champion overcame a number of unforced errors and first serve struggles to notch her 40th win of the season and a showdown with Julia Goerges in the next round.

Svitolina Takes Sloppy Opening Set

In the opening game, the Rogers Cup champion ran into some trouble. Tsurenko had double break point, and the 28-year-old converted with a forehand winner. Despite the early lead, the 30th-ranked Ukrainian gave the break right back, unable to save the third break point after going triple break point down after hitting a ball into the net.

Svitolina held easily for the first service hold of the match as Tsurenko took a medical timeout during the changeover. The 28-year-old looked fine but looked to be getting treatment on her shoulder. It was another break of serve for Svitolina, converting her third break chance thanks to more errors from Tsurenko.

The fifth seed was able to hold for 4-1 as the unforced errors continued to pour from her 28-year-old countrywoman. Tsurenko continued to struggle on her service game but was able to save one break point after a backhand error from Svitolina. Unfortunately, Tsurenko double faulted to give Svitolina a commanding double break 5-1 lead.

Svitolina took the opening set 6-1 as both women hoped to play better tennis in the second set.

Tsurenko ready to hit a serve (Noel Alberto/VAVEL USA)
Tsurenko ready to hit a serve (Noel Alberto/VAVEL USA)

Svitolina Takes It In Straights

Both women held to start the set before a marathon third game ensued on the Tsurenko serve. The unseeded Ukrainian was forced to save four break points and converted on her fourth try after a Svitolina backhand went long to hold in a 19-point game.

Tsurenko found herself with a slight opening in the fourth game, going up 15-40 after hitting a forehand pass then a fantastic backhand return down the line which left Svitolina helpless. The Rogers Cup champion was able to fend them off thanks to an error than an ace down the tee. Svitolina would hold though to level it at two-all.

Svitolina found herself frustrated after missing the first of her two break chances on the Tsurenko serve. At that point, the fifth seed was 3 for 13 on break chances. She was able to convert her second chance for a 3-2 lead. She would hold for a 4-2 lead after a Tsurenko forehand error.

Svitolina reacts to a shot she hit at the Western and Southern Open (Noel Alberto/VAVEL USA)
Svitolina reacts to a shot she hit at the Western and Southern Open (Noel Alberto/VAVEL USA)

At 30-all, Svitolina up 4-2, rain began to fall from the Cincinnati skies. Both women remained in their seats as they waited to see if the match was going to be delayed. It wasn't long before the rain let up as both women were ready to continue the match. 

Tsurenko returned to the match, starting with a double-fault to give Svitolina break point but quickly followed it up with a forehand winner down the line. The 28-year-old held but was still down a break. 

At 4-3, 40-30 on Svitolina's serve now, the rain came once again, this time causing a longer delay of about an hour as the ladies moved to the locker room this time. Once the ladies returned, Svitolina was able to hold for the 5-3 lead.

Tsurenko held for 5-4 but would not go down without a fight, saving a couple of match points on the Svitolina serve. The Ukrainian closed it out with a cross-court forehand winner, but Tsurenko was not pleased as the ball Svitolina hit before the winner, she thought was out by a distance. The replays after the match showed that indeed the ball was out, but Tsurenko did not challenge the call.